Game Preview: Miami at Arizona

The Dolphins are in Arizona this weekend, more precisely Glendale, as they try to get their first victory of the season against a Cardinals team that is looking for its first 2-0 start since 1991. We break down Sunday's matchup at University of Phoenix Stadium.


KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET


TV: CBS (Bill Macatee, Steve Beuerlein)

SERIES: 10th meeting. Dolphins lead series 8-1, including 3-0 in Arizona, and 5-0 when they were the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinals' lone win, 24-23, came at then-Pro Player Stadium on Nov. 7, 2004 when former Dolphins QB Josh McCown hit WR Larry Fitzgerald on a two-yard TD with 19 seconds left. It ended a 17-game road losing streak by the Cardinals.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Dolphins RBs Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown combined for just 23 touches last Sunday, a number that promises to increase significantly against Arizona. The Cardinals applied constant pressure against the 49ers, and the Dolphins are working in a replacement for injured RG Donald Thomas. Also look for WR Ernest Wilford to be activated to provide height for a passing attack that struggled in the red-zone against the Jets. ... When the 49ers double-teamed WR Larry Fitzgerald last Sunday, Anquan Boldin caught eight passes in the second half. The Dolphins' secondary will have a similar dilemma with no cover man who can consistently handle either receiver in single coverage. They key for Miami is stopping RBs Edgerrin James and Tim Hightower on early downs and using their 3-4 scheme to attack immobile QB Kurt Warner on third-and-long.

KEY INJURIES: Dolphins: CB Michael Lehan (ankle) is practicing and should play. Cardinals: DTs Alan Branch (ankle) and Gabe Watson (fractured kneecap) are increasing their practice workload, but might be another week away.

FAST FACTS: Ken Whisenhunt aims to become the fastest Cardinals coach to reach 10 victories with the team (18th game) since Charley Winner in 1966-67. ... Dolphins QB Chad Pennington (65.5) and Warner (65.1) lead the NFL's all-time list for highest completion percentage.



-- TE Sean Ryan, an offseason free agent pick-up from the Jets, was cut Thursday and replaced on the roster by the Bears' seventh-round pick out of Ohio State, OT Kirk Barton, who was released by Chicago.

-- WR Derek Hagan, who drew rave reviews all preseason, was demoted to fourth string the practice week before the Jets' opener. It was either a disciplinary move or a message to work harder. Hagan has been getting some snaps with the starters this week and should be a factor on Sunday.

-- WR Ernest Wilford is expected to be activated this week after the Dolphins were unable to connect three times on short lob passes in the end zone to shorter receivers last week. Hagan needs to play some special teams to get on the field.

-- RG Ikechuku Ndukwe practiced with the first unit this week and will most likely take injured rookie Donald Thomas' spot Sunday. The 6-4, 325-pound Ndukwe has practiced at every position on the line in preseason. He played mostly left guard at Northwestern.

-- RG Evan Mathis will take a crash course this week in hopes of eventually starting in place of G Donald Thomas. He played for offensive coordinator Dan Henning and O-line coach Mike Maser in Carolina from 2005-06. He started at right guard 15 games in '06, and will probably back up Ikechuku Ndukwe Sunday.

-- FB Casey Cramer was signed on Tuesday to take the place of starting FB Boomer Grigsby, who was surprisingly released. Cramer played for offensive coordinator Dan Henning in Carolina. The former Dartmouth tight end said he's ready to play Sunday. The Dolphins are more likely to use TEs Anthony Fasano or David Martin as an H-back.

-- CB Michael Lehan, who missed the first game with a sprained ankle, returned to practice this week. He will be needed to help out on Arizona's Pro Bowl WR tandem of Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald.


-- NT Alan Branch (ankle) practiced Wednesday and Thursday and should be able to play on Sunday. Branch missed last week's game.

-- NT Gabe Watson (knee) practiced Wednesday and Thursday but it's questionable if he'll be able to play this week. Watson likely won't return until next week.

-- TE Jerame Tuman (hamstring) probably will miss a second straight game. He's No. 3 on the depth chart but he's the club's best blocking tight end. His absence puts more pressure on Leonard Pope and Ben Patrick.

-- WR Steve Breaston has solidified his spot as the No. 3 receiver. Breaston had three catches last week, including a critical 41-yarder.

-- RB Tim Hightower has emerged as the team's short-yardage and goal-line back. He has a good burst and forward lean.

-- QB Kurt Warner is healthy and lobbying, at least a little, for the coaches to open up the offense. Warner passed 30 times last week, completing 19.

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